I was once given the advice to take good care of the things that connect us to the floor. As a physical therapist, this makes me think of feet. Feet are quite literally our connection to the ground as well as our base of support for many of the activities we do every single day. In addition to appropriate footwear or orthotics, we can do exercises to help our feet adapt to the surface we stand on and propel ourselves forward.
Having both mobility and strength in our feet is critical for treating injuries in our lower extremities as well as injury prevention by having better balance and stability.
Here are a few of our favorite exercises to strengthen the feet:
Ali’s Favorite Foot Exercise: Toe abduction
In this exercise we strengthen the intrinsic muscles inside the foot. They support the arches of our feet and stabilize our metatarsal bones. Sitting or standing, try to spread your toes without curling or lifting them up.
Els’ Favorite Foot Exercise: Short foot/hip adduction
In this exercise we strengthen not only the intrinsic muscles of the feet, but also our peroneals, inner thighs, and pelvis musculature. Its a nice one to integrate legs and feet. Seated, hold and squeeze a ball with your knees, push your toes together and feet into the floor (your arches will lift). Don’t lift your heels!
Jody’s Favorite Foot Exercise: Walk barefoot on sand
Walking on uneven terrain is not only a great way to add resistance to the small muscles of the feet, we also have to balance to adjust to the ground. Plus, you can also get all the benefits of being outdoors.
Kim’s Favorite Foot Exercise: Toe Piano
Practice lifting one toe at a time–so all the toes are lifted, then lowering one at a time back to the starting position. This foot exercise helps with both strength and coordination.
Now it’s your turn, take your shoes and socks off and give these exercises for your feet a try!
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